I was glad I brought along a notebook to my son’s middle school orientation last night. Because his science teacher said something that made me really excited.

His goal, he said, was to have his students “construct meaning, rather than be told what something means.”

The new science curriculum is focused on hands-on experimentation, asking questions and students keeping their own journals. Textbooks have given way to workbooks.

That’s an encouraging sign to me, because I truly believe we all learn best through direct engagement. Learning should be an active process.

This philosophy is evident to anyone taking a Verbal Defense & Influence course. Students sense it right from the start: The tables are arranged to facilitate discussion. Everyone has in-class jobs and responsibilities. There are role plays, scenarios and guided problem-solving activities.

I’ve witnessed the transformation that happens when learning takes wing. It’s taking place all around me — and it’s going to happen even in the seventh grade science class.

— Kathy Mangold
Verbal Defense & Influence